Here is our Christmas tree.
Yesterday it was here, so there has been progress. A big hairy man with a chainsaw did that bit, like a full-service Santa Claus. Amy plaintively asked if next year we can just buy one. Crazy talk. Maybe tomorrow it will make it into the house, but you can’t rush these things. One of the events on the agenda for next week is getting a new kitten so between it and the toddler there’s no point in decorating the tree because we can all see how that’s going to turn out. I made this great suggestion: we should have an outdoor Christmas tree, in the sheltered corner of the deck, and just tie the tinsel on really tight and not put the presents out on rainy days, but nobody else got on board. That’s because they’re not the ones who spend from Boxing Day until March trying to vacuum dead pine needles out of the carpet. Although this year maybe they will be.
We have so far received five Christmas cards. Four say ‘To Noah’ in cute five-year-old handwriting, and the fifth is from the gas supply company. Sometimes I’m bowled over by my own popularity. To be fair though, the only one of us who has been organised enough to give any out is Noah. I haven’t even sent one to the gas company yet, let alone anyone I actually know.
Two out of the four children have made a start on the items on their giving lists. Here is Cassia concentrating hard on filling up one whole side of a pillowcase with H’s (‘I’m writing Cassia. First the H…’).
And here is Noah. He has five grandparents on his list but he spent all his present-making energy on his best friend. Bless.
Come to think of it, three of the children have made a start. Last weekend Daniel enlisted Josh’s help at the business end of the chisel to create a lovely sharp spear for his little brother. Again, a kitten and a toddler…no good will come of it. But I didn’t interfere. I am, after all, the queen of free-range parenting. And Josh has leave over Christmas so he can do the A&E runs.
And finally, let me share with you my patented fail-proof Christmas-cake making technique.
Step 1: Psych yourself up. I chose 38 years to do this, but it’s up to you.
Step 2: Email your cousin and ask for your Grandmother’s recipe, beloved of generations.
Step 3: Tell your husband you need brandy. When he brings some home within the hour, and tests it for you within the evening, face the fact that you need to either make the cake or hide the brandy RIGHT NOW.
Step 4: Remember that apart from yourself, nobody in the family likes fruit cake, and even you don’t like it all that much. Not with chocolate eclairs or cream puffs on the premises. Ignore.
Step 5: Decide that your old cake tin can’t possibly be up to containing a cake of such importance. Head over to the Re-Store because, any excuse. Pick a lovely big tin and let the lady tell you that you’re supposed to soak the fruit, not your husband, in the brandy.
Step 6: Assuming you still have brandy in the house, get the ingredients out and turn the oven on. Count forward and realise that in this scenario you would need to make the choice, at three o’clock, between taking your cake out and picking up your children. Turn the oven off (but not without serious consideration. The children are pretty tired and raggy this time of year). Hide the brandy again.
When I work out what Step 7 is you will be the first to know.